Times 28,181: Never Look A TGIF Horse In The Mouth

Way too straight-down-the-line for the first Friday of 2022, setting a dangerous precedent, but I did enjoy this, especially for the three Romance language answers – those GCSEs and A-levels were not entirely in vain. I liked the Doctor Who reference (it’s going to be good again in 2023! Maybe) but my COD is… let’s say 5ac for being an interesting word and a smooth yet strangely bathetic surface. Halting, Dvorak keyboard-impaired video solve available at the usual Twitch channel for those as are interested.

13dn makes me wonder if there is cryptic potential to the phrase “in-flight magazine” – answers on a postcard? In any case thanks to the setter and happy new year to everyone!

Definitions underlined in italics, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, {} deletions and [] other indicators.

1 Buzzer initially put in behind drawer in pub (4,4)
5 Host swallowing wine gum (6)
MASTIC – eMCee “swallowing” top crossword wine ASTI
9 Contend with cold at seaside (8)
10 Everything jolly presumably in yearly foreign hotel (6)
POSADA – 0 SAD in P.A.
12 Quiet grudge I held in fearful anticipation (12)
15 Straight line’s drawn in a fine green (5)
LEAFY – LEY drawing in A F
16 Drops perhaps after this ritual exercise (4,5)
RAIN DANCE – cryptic def
18 Son, naughty boy, left school a dunce (9)
19 Get on the wrong side of mule, say (5)
CROSS – double def
20 Tall cavalry displacing small dockers (12)
LONGSHOREMEN – LONG HORSEMEN, with the S displaced
24 Commanding officer painting racing vehicle (2-4)
GO-CART – G.O.C. ART. Never seen this CO before but it “had to be”, yes?
25 Minor affair as pig squashes one dilapidated shed (8)
SIDESHOW – SOW “squashes” I (SHED*)
26 Sample of police kit Met finally accepted (6)
TASTER – TASER “accepting” {me}T
27 Moral primer replaced by satire (8)
1 Resist responsibility often passed (4)
BUCK – double def. Buck the trend to pass the buck!
2 Ages of sailing ships halved (4)
EONS – {gall}EONS
3 Representation of power in speech gripping board (9)
4 In small way, limit care provision (12)
6 Oil processed into fine condiment (5)
AIOLI – (OIL*) in A1
7 Nothing to be gained by mixing untrained workers together (5,5)
TRADE UNION – 0 “gained” by (UNTRAINED*)
8 Recycling of map that monks produce (10)
11 Old order from EEC remaining uncertain (6,6)
13 In a journey, part of the eye that helps night vision (10)
14 No charisma needed to play these? (10)
HARMONICAS – (NO CHARISMA*), semi-&lit, a bit harsh
17 Activity during sleep contributes to fair amount lost (9)
DECREMENT – R.E.M. “contributing to” DECENT
21 South American native that’s on slippery slope (5)
22 Doctor comes to a halt (4)
23 For example, accepting women’s influence (4)
SWAY – SAY “accepting” W

67 comments on “Times 28,181: Never Look A TGIF Horse In The Mouth”

  1. 12:49 with my last one in ANCIEN REGIME and crossed fingers. GO CART from definition and partial wordplay.
  2. I didn’t know POSADA for some reason, and toyed with POBADA as a result. ANCIEN REGIME was my LOI, hard to fit the letters in until I realized it was French. I liked CHART RE-USE although I’m sure it’s been clued that way before. 40 mins for me with at least 5 on ANCIEN REGIME.
  3. Hard enough for this plodder, who came home in 56 minutes. The SNITCH (111) suggests it is not as straightforward as all that.

    Mastika – sampled liberally on a trip to Chios before the Wuhan-flu hysteria set in – is the only liqueur I like.

  4. Great headline, Verlaine! This actually seemed the hardest of the week, but maybe that’s because I’d worked most of most of (not a typo) the others in the morning hours.

    The only spelling given in Merriam-Webster for 24 is “Go-Kart,” with a K… which had me wondering for a while about what GOK abbreviated.

    How did I know POSADA? Seems I did, though…

    LOI ANCIEN REGIME, but slapped my forehead hard. J’ai aimé aussi CHARTREUSE (don’t think I’ve ever drunk it, though).

    The clue for LONGSHOREMEN seemed damned clever. I had LONG, which helped with the two crossing downs, before I saw the rest.

    (I’m still curious, V., about why you are using the Dvorak keyboard, as I said last week. I’m sorry if this reveals earlier inattention on my part.)

    Edited at 2022-01-07 06:06 am (UTC)

    1. In theory the Dvorak keyboard involves less jumping around of the old fingers so if one was able to get fast one it, one might be able to get really fast. I’m not sure if this three-steps-backwards-in-the-hope-of-eventually-being-one-step-forward thing is a really smart idea, of course…
      1. Oh, of course. It’s to (eventually) improve on your speed, your competitive edge. That didn’t even occur to me! I’m glad it’s your own free choice and not a professional requirement. (I’ve heard that some people find Dvorak more ergonomically sound… thinking about it, though, I can’t imagine why that would be.)
    2. I’ve seen you refer to Merriam-Webster before. Why refer to an American dictionary for a British crossword? It’s GO-CART in Lexico.
      1. I see that I wasn’t clear.
        I didn’t refer to the dictionary in the course of working the puzzle.
        But I knew, as a copy-editor for a magazine whose house style relies on M-W, that this source sanctions only GO-KART, and that spelling was what I first considered.
        In other posts I have referred to M-W usually when there has been a question of a difference between transatlantic usages.

        Now, finally getting around to referring to Merriam-Webster, I find that, although GO-CART is not given as a variant for GO-KART, it has a separate entry.
        But the definition is not that of a racing vehicle…
        1a: WALKER
        b: STROLLER
        2: HANDCART
        3: a light open carriage

        Edited at 2022-01-07 08:54 am (UTC)

      2. Lexico also has GO-KART. The K spelling is also the first in Collins, with GO-CART listed as an alternative. I can’t remember ever seeing it spelled with a C before and this slowed me down a bit too so it clearly isn’t just an American thing. I initially put GO-KART and even after checking the wordplay wasn’t sure about GOC, even if it looked more likely than GOK, so I took it out altogether and waited for the HARMONICA.

        Edited at 2022-01-07 09:17 am (UTC)

        1. In my 50 or so years of solving, it’s ALWAYS been spelled with a ‘K’. I suppose this is an Anglicised Americanism, rather than the more common reverse situation. The parsing was clear, and I shrugged and carried on.
          1. I rooted around in the OED a bit, and GO-CART is a very old usage in English English, dating from the 17th century, but mainly as a reference to various things that aren’t GO-KARTs (hand carts, children’s pushchairs and various other things).
            GO-CART as a motorised racing vehicle is described as ‘now rare’ and all the citations are from US sources, and old (latest 1962). So as far as this usage is concerned it seems GO-CART was the original spelling of a word that originated in the US, and later changed to GO-KART before crossing the Atlantic.
            However there is also a slightly different definition of GO-CART:

            A light cart, designed esp. to be ridden by children, typically built at home from recycled objects such as wooden crates, pram or bicycle wheels, etc., and usually propelled by the action of gravity

            The earliest citation for this usage is the Daily Mail in 1906.
            However your experience (and mine), that GO-KART in the sense required in this clue is now always spelled with a K, seems to be right.

            Edited at 2022-01-07 10:44 am (UTC)

              1. Same here. I was aware of the home-built-cart meaning but it has never occurred to me that this was separate from the motorised-racing-cart meaning, so I would have spelled that with a K too. However the OED gives only the second meaning under GO-KART, so if it is to be believed the rickety contraptions made by children are always GO-CARTS.
                It may just be me but I find these little word histories fascinating!
  5. 37 minutes, held up at the end by SCREE. I knew the word as loose stones or rocks but not as being slippery so I was looking for an alternative. Then the wordplay clicked so I overcame my doubts about the definition. I suppose the idea is that the stones are likely to slip, whereas I had been looking for something icy.

    Not sure I knew the ‘moral’ aspect of BESTIARY or that I have seen DECREMENT before. POSADA seemed new too, and like Paul I toyed with POBADA and POWANA before thinking of SAD.

    The Oxford (Lexico and SOED) entries for GO-CART suggest meanings other than a powered racing vehicle. Kids’ trollies and perambulators seem to feature, but Collins justifies the spelling and definition in the clue.

    1. Aesop’s and La Fontaine’s fables count as bestiaries I believe and they end with a moral but I had to think about it.
      1. I knew the word mainly from Flanders & Swann who used the term as a collective name for their many animal songs.
  6. I found this tricky enough to force me into more parsing than biffing but the cryptic parts need were often not too difficult, e.g. REM for “Activity during sleep” and horsemen for cavalry.

    No doubt influenced by current affairs I read that Verlaine was impaired by a Djokovic keyboard. I guess that it is one which stops you from entering.

  7. FOI 1ac, but it was BEER PULL and I tossed it a bit later. Real FOI PRESENTIMENT. My last two, which added about 5′ to my time, were SCREE & TASTER, both of them extremely annoying: TASTER because I’d thought of it early on but couldn’t see how it worked, SCREE because it took me so long to think to separate ‘South’ and ‘American’. I wondered about FRONT; I see that ODE calls it ‘chiefly Brit.’.
  8. Guess where the jaunty streams refresh themselves.

    And guess where the letters go in my LOI. Luckily Mrs M spotted Regime.
    30 mins pre-brekker. A mixed bag.
    Thanks setter and V.

  9. Tricky in parts, but doable and enjoyable for me on a Friday. Tooth pulling tools put aside and all done in 42 mins.

    Today’s NHOs POSADA (worked out from wp, I have heard of Parador) and LOI BESTIARY (jiggled anagrist correctly entered).

    Luckily ANCIEN RÉGIME and CHARTREUSE both went in quite quickly, which helped.

    I liked BEER PUMP and WHOA best.

    Thank V and setter. No idea what a Dvorak keyboard is, I shall go and look it up.

  10. 49 minutes with LOI, as others, ANCIEN REGIME. COD to CHARTREUSE, LONGSHOREMEN and BEER PUMP jointly. I once holidayed on Chios where mastic is mainly grown. There wasn’t a lot else happening, so it was a restful holiday. Good puzzle, quite tough but all soluble. Thank you V and setter.
  11. “Way too straight-down-the-line for the first Friday of 2022, setting a dangerous precedent”

    What means “straight-down-the-line”? Easy? And “setting a dangerous precedent”? How?
    It was adequately difficult enough for me, thank you, and about 6-8 mins over my average completion time.

    I have enough difficulty with a qwerty keyboard without further complications. I’ll stick to Mr Dvorak’s music.

    Mentioned in Despatches: SCREE, WHOA, POSADA.

    1. I deliberately refrained from calling this “easy” because such descriptions must be very annoying for those who haven’t been bashing away at these puzzles day in, day out for years! I did think this one was quite cryptically normative, with a few hard vocab words but mostly tractable wordplay. I would guess it’s easier to finish a crossword with hard vocab and generous wordplay than the other way around.
  12. This stretched me 30 seconds over my hour, with the innocuous 9a CONFRONT being LOI. I’ve also not seen GO-CART with a “C” rather than a “K”, and only vaguely recognised both POSADA and ANCIEN REGIME.

    Anyway, must dash, was expecting to finish this a lot earlier and now it’s a race against time to get to my desk for 9am, even though the desk is in my living room these days!

  13. 34:44
    Cart/kart – what everyone else said.
    Scree straight in from Genesis Riding the Scree (The Lamb).
    Steady solve; enjoyable puzzle.
    Thanks, v.
  14. 10:07. I didn’t find this particularly hard but I did find it very satisfying to solve, because I was able to biff very little. I needed at least some reference to the wordplay for nearly all the clues.
    I was probably helped by knowing all the words. BESTIARY was my last in: I knew it but struggled to get to it from the definition.
    My youngest is teaching himself to type at the moment and uses a website called monkeytype: you might find this useful for improving your Dvorak skills, v. I have discovered from it that my typing speed is 80wpm, which was a great surprise to me. I certainly won’t be trying to retrain!
  15. 38 minutes. Like gothick_matt, CONFRONT was my last in by some time after having a nervy when the unchecked letters didn’t immediately fall into place. I’d heard of the word before but couldn’t have told you what a BESTIARY was.

    Yes, HARMONICAS was a bit tough. Remember “Genevieve”?

    1. I remember Genevieve well, particularly when the wheels were caught in the tram track. I’ve had a panic attack about that bit on Blackpool prom north of North Pier where the road and the track are as one ever since. Didn’t Larry Adler make a small fortune out of the profits, having been offered that in lieu of a fee when the budget ran out? He didn’t like blues harmonica, saying: “I think they all sound alike except for Bob Dylan — who sounds worse! … if I were dictator of the world my first act would be to forbid Bob Dylan from playing the mouth organ!” I don’t quite agree with him there!
      1. Yes, it was a lovely film. Between you and me, I had a bit of a thing about Dinah Sheridan, even though she was almost old enough to be my grandmother.

        I read on Wikipedia that the “Genevieve” film music had been a nice little earner for Larry Adler. Good on him for daring to question established orthodoxy. He obviously had a bit of a history of that which is how he ended up in the UK of course. Like you though, I don’t agree with him about our esteemed Nobel Prize winner!

  16. FOI CONFRONT, seemed fairly straightforward for the most part, easy SW corner went very quickly. By 38m I was two clues away and progress came to a halt.

    14m later I finally realised that 27a was an anagram, and entered BESTIARY as the only word that seemed reasonable given the checkers, leaving 10a for completion (almost certainly fitting a PO-A-A grid). Gave up at the hour mark. I’ve spent time in Spanish-speaking countries, and suspect that word was not entirely new to me …so a bit disappointing, but I’ll try to remember the “everything jolly presumably” device for future reference.

    Even so, the end of a very successful week by my standards – 3 successful completions and close on the other two. Glad to be back here and making good progress with the help of the community – thanks V and setter.

  17. 18:13 LOI LEAFY. I struggled to remember POSADA and G.O.C. but had never heard of the ANCIEN REGIME so relied on the wordplay for that. The other thing I learned today is that a BESTIARY wasn’t just a compendium of animals. Thank-you V and setter.
  18. ..until I ground to a halt with two clues remaining, and no more crossers available. SCREE came with a “duh moment” after a minute or so, but my LOI came close to defeating me.

    TIME 14:25

  19. A steady 20.48, with the right going in more smoothly than the left, even with the REGIME and the BESTIARY, which I thought was something else not at all moral. LEAFY my last in too, this setter being rather more sneaky with his/her word order than most.

    I was going to suggest (assuming V touch types) that he overcome the Dvorak issue by changing the keyboard setting to ENG UK (would that work anyway?) but now I see it’s more an attempt to shave milliseconds off already zippy times I’ll keep shtum. I have enough trouble switching from a laptop to a desktop keyboard. And I don’t touch type.

    Edited at 2022-01-07 10:35 am (UTC)

    1. And the right hand column describes the gait of a recipient of over-generous hospitality from Carthusian monks.
      1. And the 1ac column sounds like an ale I once tasted in the sixties!

        Edited at 2022-01-07 01:54 pm (UTC)

  20. Delayed for a wee while, wondering how EXCENT could mean ‘fair.’

    (An EXCENT is of course what South Africans have when they speak.)

    Edited at 2022-01-07 11:16 am (UTC)

  21. The obvious MER at having to reassess my spelling of GO-KART but lots of nice clues, of which the CHART RE-USE was the pick.
  22. I was very poor on this: took just over an hour and that was with several electronic aids at the end. Was totally unaware of the moral aspect to a bestiary, only thinking that it was a collection of animals or the like, as in ‘A Bestiary of Flanders and Swann’. CONFRONT held me up for some unknown reason. General dimness.
  23. Jorge POSADA was a catcher for the NY Yankees some years ago and my older daughter, who was learning Spanish at the time, called him George Bed-and-breakfast. MASTIC Shirley is the unlikely name of a station on the Eastern end of the Long Island Railroad where I once got stranded on a freezing January day when the trains weren’t running. Nice puzzle. 17.39
  24. 23:19 with most of the trouble in the SE. As others have said, not much biffing to be done, with most clues needing at least a pause to weigh up the cryptic, which makes it a good crossie in my view.
  25. Hard going for me. FOI was CHARTREUSE, and LOI POSADA. GO-KART put in and taken out again until HARMONICA arrived, and then replaced with GO-CART and a MER. 50:18. Thanks setter and V.
  26. It certainly wasn’t straightforward for me. I’m not sure how long it took because of several interruptions, but somewhere between 50 minutes and an hour, with an aid used to get POSADA. I thought the answer was going to be NO something or other. I filled most of the lower half reasonably quickly. Answers such as ANCIEN REGIME were biffed, but the upper half, especially the NW, gave me trouble, 3 and 4 especially. I should have got RAIN DANCE far sooer than I did, since I’ve seen a similar clue recently. LEAFY took ages too, only solved when I had the L from 13d.

    I agree with topicaltim that the clue to CHARTREUSE was COD.

  27. I went through this fairly quickly for a Friday, but hadn’t got the wherewithal to nail 11dn. OWCH! Another obscure foreign word clued by a hanagaram!

    FOI 2dn EONS

    (LOI) 10ac POSADA


    WOD DVORAK – I once tried a Dvorak pianola keyboard; it was not easy but worked best the for his piano Humoresques.

    Edited at 2022-01-07 12:02 pm (UTC)

      1. My Chinese half is not into crosswords but Soduko/Sudoko wharrever. H.

        Edited at 2022-01-07 03:44 pm (UTC)

  28. Straight down the line as Verlaine says, but that suited me fine today, COD LONGSHOREMEN.

    The REM mention has given me an earworm. All together now, “IF you believe they put a man on the moon…”

    Thanks to Verlaine and the setter.

  29. Enjoyed this, though a DNF as I couldn’t see the NHO POSADA. I have certainly never written GO-CART with a K, though it’s quite possible that I’ve only ever written it about twice in 60 years. So no objection from me to the spelling, even if ‘now rare’.
  30. 23.30. Nice puzzle, maybe not as fiendish as we sometimes get on a Friday but I still found plenty of clues requiring lots of sorting out to keep me happily occupied. FOI mastic. LOI Ancien Regime.
  31. 18.20 so hopefully a competitive time today. Bit sluggish to begin with put halfway down the across clues- doh!- started to get some traction. Thereafter, pretty straightforward but held up by ancien regime( couldn’t get ensign out of my head for the first part) and LOI decrement which I thought a very nicely constructed clue.

    Thx setter and blogger and here’s to the start of a much better year for all of us.

  32. ulaca commented early on that the Snitch was 111 which means I beat my target….. though it is 100 now at the time of writing which means I missed it by 1 minute.

    After ten minutes, I had only four answers but sped up considerably after that.

    Fortunately, I have stayed at a POSADA in both Madrid and Malaga, so had no doubt over the answer there.

    Last in were FLASHLIGHT followed by LEAFY.

  33. at 11dn Ancien Regime – I knew it was an anagram but was past caring as I approached the 20 minutes threshold. COD Rain Dance – WOD Bestiary. I can assure you Scree is a slippery slope.
  34. An hour and a half. DNF – NHO posada. Not all my own work either. With all the checkers in, husband blurted out longshoremen, so now I will never know if I would have seen it eventually. Eventually not meant particularly ironically in view of my solving time. Enjoyed the puzzle, and the blog clarified the ones I biffed – beer pump – any word of four letters that goes with beer, I’ll try pump, hey presto. Leafy, did not see the ley line. Did not see the REM in decrement. And as for the Ancien Regime, I did not realise it was an anagram of anything. Still pleased with my DNQF. Thanks, Verlaine, and setter. Re scree being slippery – it is on Great Gable, but the Wasdale Screes are far too big to be slippery, some of the rocks are as big as fridge-freezers – but I guess they are slippery when the weather is icy.
  35. Totally off the wavelength today, I even missed the anagram for BESTIARY. Probably due to distraction of a rescue dog, aka wild animal, arrived today.
  36. There were two I couldn’t get: POSADA and BESTIARY.
    I was remembering Kennedy’s Latin Primer but doubted whether that could be clued by Primer.
    Otherwise not too hard for a Friday.
  37. I’m only posting today because it is the first time ever that I have known something our esteemed blogger did not! As a former RAF brat I’m fairly sure that GOC stands for General Officer Commanding. But it took me about an hour to finish the rest!

  38. I found this a real struggle and never figured out POSADA. A careless ERAS at 2 messed me up as well. I never checked to make sure it parsed; a rookie error.

    I do have a pedantic quibble over 13. A lash belongs to the eyelid, not the eye. Head office is an oculoplastic surgeon and she confirms the fact.

      1. True enough. I did confess to being a rigorist when making the point. I did waste an embarrassingly long time trying to work iris, rod, cone etc into the answer to no avail.

  39. With a 34 minute solve, this was definitely on my wavelength, although I wouldn’t call it easy. Still, nothing gave me any real trouble and I even understood all of the wordplay, although for some of the clues I did need the help of a few crossing letters (BEER PUMP, for example). My LOI and perhaps my COD was WHOA. On the whole, I found it a very enjoyable puzzle.
  40. I thought this was a great puzzle. Loved “Chartreuse”.
    Technical DNF as I needed aids for “Posada” — I study Spanish but this was a new word to me. I should still have got it from the wordplay.

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